One of the reasons that WordPress is so popular is due to its flexibility and scalability through plugins. As a WordPress website owner, you’ve probably downloaded multiple plugins in the past to extend the functionality of your website and incorporate custom features.

To stop WordPress plugins from breaking your site, you should take these six preliminary steps every time you install a new plugin.

How can WordPress plugins break your site?

Plugins have the potential to break your site due to being incompatible with your source code or having a high resource usage, which can cause high server load and slow down your website. If they are left without being regularly updated, they can leave you vulnerable to falling victim to malicious attacks.

It’s tough to diagnose if a plugin will break your site before installing and activating it which is why it’s important to take action with these key steps.

How to stop WordPress plugins from breaking your website

1) Only install trusted plugins

Before installing a plugin, you should check the number of active users, the last updated date, and read through the available reviews to identify any potential issues. If a plugin has a large number of active users and is regularly updated, it is likely to be trustworthy and bug-free. However, problems may still arise if you don’t regularly update it which is why you should make a plan to do monthly check for updates of your installed plugins.

2) Select a trustworthy theme

The theme you choose to use is just as important as the plugins selected and together they need seamless integration to work efficiently and effectively. By choosing a trustworthy theme, you have a better chance of your plugin and the template source code from having any discrepancies. Aswell as keeping your plugins updated, you should regularly update your theme to keep up with the newest technologies and ensure your site is working to the best of its ability.

3) Limit the number of plugins installed

Too many plugins will also cause performance issues, so you are best keeping installations to a minimum. Consider whether you really need each and every plugin before installing it and delete any unused plugins from your database on a regular basis. By keeping plugins installed that you do not use, you are leaving more potential gateways for malicious attacks and increasing the likelihood of one conflicting with another.

4) Select a reliable host

A good web hosting service will help ensure your website loads quickly and is secure without any substantial downtime as well as other advantages. Many website owners make the wrong choice by going for a cheap option which they may find no longer meets the growing needs of their business, but it is never too late to change hosts.

If you are currently on a low-cost, shared hosting platform, you may find that your plugins interfere too much with your website’s performance.

5) Regularly back up your site

Plugin incompatibility is a common issue on WordPress sites, and this can cause a whole host of problems including the dreaded white-screen of death – when you access your website and you see nothing but a blank page.

To prevent issues from occurring on the live site, test any plugin updates in a staging environment first. That way, you have the opportunity to catch errors and correct them before going live.

Regular backups to your site are essential and must not be overlooked as any one plugin could cause it to break. If you don’t backup your site, you may not be able to recover what was lost which would be incredibly disappointing to say the least. A backup should always be done before installing any new plugins to protect your site.

6) Be mindful of malicious attacks

WordPress plugins can be an easy gateway to malicious attacks if they are not secure or up to date. When a security issue that can’t be addressed in a timely manner is found, the plugin is “closed”, and downloads are restricted in an effort to prevent anybody from falling victim to an exploitation. However, it is ultimately your responsibility to continuously monitor the plugins you have installed to mitigate risk to your website.

By following the six steps outlined above, you will be more likely to stop WordPress plugins from breaking your website. Although plugins make life easier for WordPress owners, they do need regular maintenance to keep your site safe and performing to the best of its ability.

We highly recommend setting up a staging site not only for testing plugins, but to make any website iterations before it goes live.

Aside from plugins, there are many other ways to help your business meet its full potential. Having a solid SEO strategy in place, layered security protection, and an up to date core and theme will help your WordPress website run smoothly.

Here, at WP Tech Support we offer WordPress maintenance packages to keep your site it tip-top condition. View our monthly plans to find the one that best meets your requirements.